Innovation and Investment Are Growth Drivers for Asia's Transition to Clean Energy


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Over 180 thought leaders shed light on current and future developments for minimizing the impact and implications of climate change at the recently concluded Asia Clean Energy Summit (ACES), hosted by the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore (SEAS). The sixth run of the annual industry conference saw greater participation and engagement among industry players, indicative of the increased awareness and prioritization of the transition towards clean energy.

Experts from across the sustainable energy ecosystem ranging from energy technology firms and solar photovoltaic (PV) companies, investors, policy makers to international development finance institutions participated in the three-day summit, held from 30 October to 1 November 2019 at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands. They shared insights on the technological, financial and policy innovations in the energy space and the potential of renewable energy sources - empowering attendees with the knowledge to seize opportunities for ramping up sustainable energy production in Singapore and beyond.

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12 PowerACE finalists showcased their solutions at the Innovation Arena at ACES 2019. Covering key themes that range from Digital Applications, Decentralized and Off-Grid Systems, Clean Energy, New Frontier Technologies and E-Mobility, the annual competition serves as a platform for building a robust and sustainable energy ecosystem in Singapore.

Some of the technologies highlighted included digital applications, energy storage, decentralized and off-grid systems, clean energy transition, new frontier technologies, e-mobility, Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, which are seen to address constraints around scarce land and limited access to alternative clean energy options in Singapore and the region.

Given Singapore's limited access to geothermal, wind and tidal power, solar power was highlighted as a way forward to meet the city-state's clean energy goals. As an early mover in the solar energy space, Singapore has taken several initiatives such as the SolarNova programme launched by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and Housing & Development Board (HDB) in 2014 to accelerate the deployment of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The recent heightened interest in Floating PV systems, given land constraints in Singapore and the capability of FPV to connect with hydropower plants, has served as an apt backdrop for the International Floating Solar Symposium (IFSS) at ACES 2019. A pioneer in the floating solar space, Singapore already serves as the home to the world's largest floating solar energy test-bed in Tengeh Reservoir.

"Our Energy Story is a whole-of-nation effort and it requires industries, individuals and the Government to work in partnership to promote energy efficiency and sustainable business practices," said Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State Ministry of Trade and Industry in Singapore.

Accelerating Climate Action in Singapore and the Region

Across different sessions at ACES 2019, thought leaders weighed in on new opportunities for growth within the renewable energy landscape as Singapore accelerates its transition towards becoming a hub for sustainable energy systems.

IFSS saw the launch of "Where Sun Meets Water: Floating Solar Handbook for Practitioners" by Solar Energy Research Institute of Singapore (SERIS) and the World Bank. The manual aims to build trust and share knowledge among key opinion leaders and government bodies. This will help practitioners fully capitalize on the potential of FPV systems amidst challenges such as regulatory considerations for hydro-connected plants and de-risking of investments into these systems.

Complementing the push for decarbonization, Dr. Sanjay C Kuttan, Chairman of SEAS White Paper Committee, and Damian Chan, Assistant Managing Director from the Economic Development Board launched a carbon white paper that identifies key opportunities for Singapore to accelerate its decarbonization efforts across the energy value and supply chain. Anchored on insights arising from an industry decarbonization survey involving 92 respondents across companies, the carbon white paper by SEAS addresses the sentiments and potential of decarbonization strategies in the industry.

"The launch of the carbon white paper at ACES 2019 is timely, as we are witnessing a growing interest around reducing carbon footprint and creating innovative clean energy solutions. By identifying key opportunities for Singapore, we hope to accelerate decarbonization efforts across the energy value and supply chain," said Kavita Gandhi, Executive Director, SEAS.

Fostering Collaborations, Conversations and Innovations in Sustainable Energy

At the ACES 2019, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) signed three Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with leading wind energy and sustainable energy associations in the SEA region. These included the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore, Binh Thuan Wind Energy Association from Vietnam, Thailand Wind Energy Association and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The MOU aims to provide a basis for future regional collaborations aimed towards increasing the wind energy and renewable energy penetration in the region.

The finals of the PowerACE Competition 2019 were hosted at the summit. This year saw TransferFi Pte Ltd., the world's first long-range efficient wireless power network, emerging as the grand winner among the 12 startups who displayed their solutions at the Innovation Arena at ACES 2019. TransferFi received an S$50,000 grant from Startup SG and an invitation to participate at Asia's international startup pitching competition SLINGSHOT 2019, which will be held from 11 to 13 November, during the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH). 

"PowerAce has served as an avenue for us to showcase breakthroughs and applications for wireless power transfer, a space which is still very new. Winning the competition pushes awareness in this area and also highlights the need for a more sustainable power distribution model. Following TransferFi's accelerated growth, we are committed towards driving further education on wireless power transfer technology, and we hope to continue ensuring that the market understands this new area," said Aashish Mehta, CEO and Co-Founder of TransferFi.

Other PowerACE winners include Okra Solar (ADB Ventures Award recipient), which provides plug-and-play hardware and software solutions connecting solar panels and batteries into microgrids; Qi Square Pte Ltd (Ecolabs Special Award recipient), a digital simulation, modelling, and machine-learning solution for improved energy management; and BeeBryte (Enterprise SG Award recipient), a software-as-a-service solution for minimizing utility bills with automatic control of heating-cooling equipment (e.g. HVAC), pumps, EV charging points and/or batteries. 

"Let me conclude by saying that the Asia Clean Energy Summit is an important platform for companies and policymakers to discuss critical issues and opportunities in harnessing clean energy for the future. I would like to encourage all of you to continue this effort and co-create innovative clean energy solutions, so that together, we can realize our Energy Story for Singapore and our vision to be a clean energy hub for Asia," said Dr Koh.

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